While it is being anticipated that Gujarat will get its first woman Chief Minister, a decision which is likely to be taken on Wednesday, senior-most minister Anandi Patel, 74, visited the famous Ambaji temple in Banaskantha on Saturday.
“It is 95 per cent confirmed that Anandiben will be the next chief minister. However, a surprise candidate at the last minute cannot be ruled out,” a source said.
The coming week is expected to be action-packed, as Narendra Modi prepares to exit his home state after 12 years as its Chief Minister, to take oath as the next Prime Minister.
Modi will address the public on Tuesday at Maninagar, the Assembly constituency that has been sending him to the House since 2002. This is being seen as his “goodbye address” to Gujarat, BJP sources said. This will be Modi’s first public meeting after winning the Lok Sabha election from Vadodara and Varanasi. The meeting will be held at Aavkar Hall in Maninagar at around 7 pm, said a media release on Sunday.
Top sources in the party said Modi will tender his resignation on Wednesday, after addressing the Assembly the same day. A meeting of Gujarat BJP MLAs will be held soon after and a new chief minister will be declared.
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The BJP has appointed senior leader Thavarchand Gehlot as an observer for the process of electing a new CM, along with state party in-charge Om Mathur, who has been holding regular meetings with Modi since May 12.
The new CM is likely to take oath on or before May 23, the sources said. Social media went agog with tweets hailing Patel as the “new Gujarat CM”, even as a formal decision is awaited.
BJP sources, however, said that other probables in the race are ministers Ganpat Vasava, Nitin Patel, Bhupendrasinh Chudasama. Other non-MLA probables included BJP state treasurer Surendra Patel, RSS leader Bhikhubhai Dalsania and Amit Shah, the party in-charge of Uttar Pradesh.
However, given the bitter rivalry between Shah and Patel, Modi is likely to keep the two far apart.